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View Diary: What are you reading? April 24, 2013 (49 comments)

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  •  just read... (13+ / 0-)

    ..."House of Earth" by Woody Guthrie. A short, interesting read. Now reading "Life and Fate" by Vasily Grossman, an 870 page epic dealing with WW2 Russia. It is I think, a great book made even more compelling by the history of the author(a war reporter for the Red Army) and the book itself(the manuscript was "arrested" by Soviet authorities and had copies smuggled to the west for publication) I think it's well worth a look if you like epic historical fiction.

    •  I've been looking into Russian Novels this week - (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, plf515, postalblue

      I don't mean reading them, but reading about them. I stumbled across a perfect line of propaganda, from when Grossman was a WWII reporter, on the Germans: "their bedraggled army continued its cowardly advance".

      I'll read Life and Fate one day. It sounds like one of the greatest Russian Novels of the 20th Century.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 08:47:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This novel... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brecht, RiveroftheWest, plf515

        ...is a heavy lift, no doubt about it. The narrative spans camps in the Soviet Gulag to the battle of Stalingrad and to the Nazi death camps. There are so many characters that there is a list provided to keep track of them, also made more confusing by the author's use of the full Russian name. Still I'm completey caught up in it and enjoying the journey despite the somber subject matter.

        •  Grossman struggled to find the truth, depth & art (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          postalblue, RiveroftheWest, plf515

          that he put into Life and Fate. I love that it's a sequel to For a Just Cause - a novel so trapped in Soviet ideology that it was second rate, and has bever been translated into English.

          One of the strangest truths about Life and Fate is that it is a sequel. If, reading it, you find yourself wondering why the strands about the Shaposhnikov sisters don't really seem to tie together, and why the strand about the manager of the Stalingrad power station doesn't go anywhere much, the answer is that they are trailing stubs of plots much more developed in the previous volume.

          Za Pravoe Delo, or "For a Just Cause", has never been translated; perhaps it will be now. Though bold enough to get Grossman into trouble when it was published in 1952, it was, nevertheless, a conventional socialist-realist novel, respectful of the main outlines of Stalinist piety. In it, by all accounts, recognisable versions of the people we know in Life and Fate in scrubbed-bare form exist deeply layered, varnished in acceptable feeling and Stalinist sentiment. Viktor Shtrum and all the others were imagined complicitly before they were imagined fearlessly. This is the resistance Grossman had to overcome; this is the position he had to feel and think his way out of. Not just Stalinism as something imposed and official, something comfortably alien, but something intimate to his patriotic, upwardly mobile Soviet generation, from which, with astonishing and lonely determination, he managed to alienate himself.

          "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

          by Brecht on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 12:57:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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